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(Almost) Alone With God

I’m waiting for the little wren to return to the juniper outside my window. I met him yesterday. We became friends.

I watched him from the window while I sat on the bed, retreating. I was at a WAAG, a Weekend (Almost) Alone With God. Almost because there were other women in their rooms on their beds, possibly with their own junipers and wrens.

What he saw in the tree I do not know. It doesn’t appear welcoming – no sturdy perch or soft spot to land. He kept lighting on the very top branches where the wind was at it’s shakiest, his little legs clinging to the tiniest tines.

All day he came and went as I watched, my little gray wren. He’d fly away, and I’d think, well there he goes, but then he’d return as if to say, to me and the juniper, “I haven’t forgotten you.” He kept after us, like the Spirit, showing us we weren’t too prickly or weak or wobbly to love.

I’m leaving the sanctuary of my room in an hour. My weekend (almost) alone with God is coming to an end and I’m sitting on the bed, staring out the window, praying for my friend to return, to meet me once again in this place.

***

I’ve been on retreats like this before. Usually, I come with a list of demands  desired outcomes. Being a believer in productivity, and God being busy and all, I just want to get some business done. But this time I came empty. I had nothing to offer except my upturned palms and the makings of a poem buried deep inside my frosty heart.

My retreat began in resistance, as it will. Get settled, situated. Am I cold? Hot? Hungry? Thirsty? Fluff the pillows. Off the bed, try the chair, back to the bed. Remove a pillow. Put it back. Get up, get my paper and pen, no the purple one, my book, and bible. Socks on. No, definitely off. Actually on is better. Breathe.

After all that nonsense, the battle of the mind begins. Thoughts flitting to and fro like a wren on a juniper tree.

All of this is familiar, so I just said, “Oh, you again. Let’s get through this quickly shall we?” Then I opened my book and my eyes landed here:

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
Wendell Berry, How to Be a Poet

So I sat in silence, as I am now, waiting on God.

And he came and he went all day, delighting me and the juniper tree.

And then the sky pinked, then purpled. The juniper became a shadow as the city came alive and snaking headlights made their appearance.

Then the world turned navy, then black.

Night.

***

With morning came the longing and that is where I now sit. But it’s time to strip the bed, pack my bag and lace up my shoes. I’m resisting.

I stand next to the window one last time and scan the hills for my winter wren. Although I can’t seem him, I know he is there – for He is never far from any of us.

I leave, full, palms heavenward.

 

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